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The Engineer's Notebook is a shared blog for entries that don't fit into a specific CR4 blog. Topics may range from grammar to physics and could be research or or an individual's thoughts - like you'd jot down in a well-used notebook.

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Facebook and the Older User

Posted August 26, 2017 12:00 AM by M-ReeD
Pathfinder Tags: Aging facebook

In an attempt to keep our age 65+ mother in touch with faraway relatives and long-lost friends, my siblings and I encouraged her to sign up for Facebook.

Much like the concerns found in a survey of Facebook users over the age of 55, my mother originally felt uncomfortable with her information being "out there." That is, until she wasn’t.

As Facebook gains traction with the 55+ crowd, the social media platform is taking note of how that demographic uses its site in an attempt to lure others from that age group.

Although the number is now growing, researchers wanted to better understand the initial underlying reticence for avoiding the platform. Publishing their findings in the journal Telematics and Informatics, researchers conducted a survey of 20 Facebook users and 26 non-Facebook users living in a retirement home.

Researchers asked the participants a number of questions about the frequency of their Facebook use, or non-use as the case may be.

According to the survey results, ranking highest among the reasons for that age group to use the site include sharing photos, keeping in touch with friends and monitoring their family members’ status updates.

However, one of the main reasons indicated for not participating on the site included concern over who sees their information and content. Additionally, there was also criticism levelled at the "oversharing" that happens on Facebook with posts that deal mostly in triviality: i.e., pictures of meals or documentation of: Every. Single. Thing.

"The biggest concern is privacy and it's not about revealing too much, it's that they assume that too many random people out there can get their hands on their information," said S. Shyam Sundar, distinguished professor of communications and co-director of the Media Effects Research Laboratory, Penn State. "Control is really what privacy is all about. It's about the degree to which you feel that you have control over how your information is shared or circulated."

One of the ways Facebook believes it can draw in more users from that demographic is to look for ways to highlight the array of privacy options available to its users.

"Clear privacy control tools are needed to promote older adults' Facebook use," said Eun Hwa Jung, assistant professor of communications and new media, National University of Singapore. "In particular, we think that privacy settings and alerts need to be highly visible, especially when they [older adults] are sharing information."

So while my mother has now fully embraced the platform, sharing political views in equal measure to the pictures she shares of her grandchildren, maybe the retirement home research is flawed and that the admittedly small sample group surveyed is simply not on the platform because they are…ahem…busy.

Are you a Facebook user or have you resisted the platform?


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Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Tucson, AZ
Posts: 925
Good Answers: 25

Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/26/2017 1:57 PM

"Loose lips sink ships" was valid during WWII, and is equally valid on internet and especially on Facebook.

"What isn't shared...remains private."

...and the Devil said: "...yes, but it's a DRY heat..!"

Join Date: Apr 2017
Location: Southern Illinois
Posts: 274
Good Answers: 7

Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/26/2017 11:38 PM

All I have to say is, duh. That's why there shouldn't be insider trading, back-door access without due process, or spying. Knowing things you shouldn't know can be just as bad as telling things you shouldn't tell. Without proper context, the meaning gets lost. Properly gotten info is usually more reliable anyway. And it also comes with guidelines on its proper use. Easier to stay out of trouble that way. Irrelevant knowledge is not what it's hyped up to be. It's easier to remember need-to-know things and not be encumbered by Freudian Slips (oops...I wasn't supposed to know that.....). The more control you have of your own info means that less people can control you. Personally, I like freedom. In general, I like keeping it on a need to know basis. There's a difference between friends and non-friends (subjective/objective, or in-context/out-of-context, etc.).

Science is the "cookbook" for making things.

Join Date: Apr 2007
Posts: 69
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Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/26/2017 11:59 PM

I'm 64 and I'm not on Facebook. I value my privacy. The young people that are putting their entire lives on the internet will regret it one day.

I really like it when I Google myself, or look on Spokeo, etc. and see that very little information comes up. Half the info on Spokeo is completely wrong--I love it!

You know what? I don't need any phony 'friends', either. I've got real friends, people that will come over and help with projects, etc. I've got a real life, with tons of projects and hobbies that keep me busy from morning til night. I really don't have time for monitoring social media. I'm sociable in that I go to lunch with friends, go to concerts with friends, go boating, etc.

Nope, not on Linkedin, either, although dozens of people have asked me to join. Funny, one friend of mine invited me to join. When I talked to him, he told me that he wasn't even a member and others were trying to get him to join. How does that work???

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Join Date: May 2016
Posts: 1

Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/27/2017 4:49 AM

Facebook: the humans being need peace. Not more Big brother, pls.

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Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/27/2017 2:16 PM

I do have a Facebook account (contrary to my friend/employer recommendations), but the only time I use it is when I get an email telling me that so-and-so has posted...

I strongly prefer email to keep in contact with ONLY those I want to contact.

As someone else said, I have way too many projects under way and in mind to waste time on social media.

Teaching is a great experience, but there is no better teacher than experience.
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Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Tamworth, UK.
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In reply to #5

Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/29/2017 7:46 AM

I also have a Facebook FB account, but only use it if I have to - then only to read about 'things' of interest.

Is it a coincidence that after a recent visit to FB, and clicking on a link or two, I found I had 192 'undeliverable' emails returned to my inbox when I opened it - emails I never sent in the first place, and to names of which were not even in my contacts list - and I gather also not on the approved list of the recipient, that they hence refused to accept - the reason for the 'undeliverable' message. Also each email had an attachment purporting to provide a 'solution' to the problem. I deleted the lot. I use AVG and they cleaned my PC thoroughly by remote control to make sure there were no viruses.

I say coincidence, it might have had nothing whatsoever to do with my visit to FB, but that is the only thing I consciously recall doing that was different from usual.

The worry is, that an elderly user tempted to join FB would know nothing of this or what to do. I was able to 'fix' it, I hope. Goodness knows if other emails sent in my name arrived successfully - all unknown to me - the absence of any subsequent replies is good news (or is it?).

Not that I am young - the sound of the door of 80 is still ringing in my ears after it slammed shut behind me a couple of years ago!

When arguing, remember mud-slinging = lost ground.
Engineering Fields - Nuclear Engineering - New Member

Join Date: Sep 2009
Location: Louisville, OH
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Good Answers: 24

Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/29/2017 12:02 PM

I'm on Facebook mostly to keep up on hobby stuff; family items haven't been vital so far, except for saving a few (that means not very many!) photos, but some information has been interesting. I do not collect friends even when invited; a few is sufficient + a few hobby pages/groups.

Part of our reluctance/uncomfortableness is that FB changes things without telling us. too many of the security choices are hidden and obscure. We need a tutorial which doesn't exist as far as I know (AFIK I think!.) Could they divide the information to "customers" by age? That is, over 55 gets more/different info than under 55.

I also haven't found out how to make the most recent posts appear first. On my home page I can change this order, but FB keeps changing it back to the most important--their choice not mine!


Join Date: Jul 2012
Location: Madison, WI.
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Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/29/2017 1:27 PM

Never mind that FB is intentionally vague, cryptic, and obscure in relation to privacy because they get their money from selling that information. It would be bad for their business model to make it easy to block others from using, seeing, sharing, your information let alone then FB would have to admit they sell it to all those millennials who think FB is a good world citizen, altruistic, and actually cares about them. Right now when challenged FB will hedge effectively with the "well you left it public" line. They never actually admit until a lawyer got involved that they are responsible for the vast amount of user info out there. No one was "mining" FB information. Why would they when they can easily buy it.

Knowing is the end result of learning, not believing.

Join Date: Jul 2008
Posts: 1263
Good Answers: 105

Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/30/2017 9:17 PM

I have a FB acct but only posted the minimum to get it. Birthday was mandatory so I posted a fake one. I have never made a posting and never responded to anything.

The reason I have FaceBook is for the free video chat service. I have a family member in the military. My wife and I can video chat with him any time we want for free. Good quality audio and video and I just use a Firefox browser on a Linux box. No need for a FB app.

We have used FB video chat to a number of different countries. Never had issues with blocking. Good audio and video unless someone has very restricted bandwidth. Worth every penny I didn't pay for it and more.

Few things limit our potential as much as knowing answers and setting aside questions.
United Kingdom - Member - Indeterminate Engineering Fields - Control Engineering - New Member

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Location: In the bothy, 7 chains down the line from Dodman's Lane level crossing, in the nation formerly known as Great Britain, and now disconnecting ["brexit" - ugh] as Little England and Wales (not too sure about Wales bit, either). Kettle's on.
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Re: Facebook and the Older User

08/31/2017 8:31 AM

There is still no truth in the rumour that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube are to amalgamate into a new entity called "YouTwitFace". None whatsoever.

"Did you get my e-mail?" - "The biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place" - George Bernard Shaw, 1856
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